ARC Review: The Tuscan Child by Rhys Bowen


TheTuscanChildCoverOfficial Synopsis from Goodreads: From New York Times bestselling author Rhys Bowen comes a haunting novel about a woman who braves her father’s hidden past to discover his secrets…In 1944, British bomber pilot Hugo Langley parachuted from his stricken plane into the verdant fields of German-occupied Tuscany. Badly wounded, he found refuge in a ruined monastery and in the arms of Sofia Bartoli. But the love that kindled between them was shaken by an irreversible betrayal.

Nearly thirty years later, Hugo’s estranged daughter, Joanna, has returned home to the English countryside to arrange her father’s funeral. Among his personal effects is an unopened letter addressed to Sofia. In it is a startling revelation.

Still dealing with the emotional wounds of her own personal trauma, Joanna embarks on a healing journey to Tuscany to understand her father’s history—and maybe come to understand herself as well. Joanna soon discovers that some would prefer the past be left undisturbed, but she has come too far to let go of her father’s secrets now…

Genre: Mystery
Setting: A fictional village near Lucca, Italy in 1944 and 1973. Also Surrey, England.

 ***I received an eARC copy of The Tuscan Child from Little Bird Publicity, and the publisher, Lake Union Publishing, via NetGalley***

 *** this post contains affiliate links ***

 Review: Oof. This one was really tough for me. I’m a huge, huge fan of Rhys Bowen’s, so when I was contacted by Little Bird Publicity to review her latest book, The Tuscan Child, I immediately jumped at the chance! I adore Bowen’s Molly Murphy Mystery series, and also her Lady Georgiana series. I also really enjoyed her first standalone book, In Farleigh Field, which I reviewed when it came out. So I went into reading The Tuscan Child with very high expectations! And I’m sad to say that I just did not connect with this title in any way. I found it very slow and a bit too serious.

Two different characters narrate The Tuscan Child: Hugo Langley, in 1944, and his daughter, Joanna Langley, in 1973. Hugo is shot down over Italy, and is aided by a woman, Sofia, as he hides from the Nazis. His story of how he escapes is interwoven with Joanna’s story, as she learns her father has died, and travels to Italy to learn more about his time there. The weaving of the stories was done well, although I found that there was too much time spent on Hugo’s story. His story of hiding in the woods and recuperating from his injuries just felt monotonous and bland. Hugo was a perfectly fine character; he just didn’t spark my interest in any way. I enjoyed Joanna’s story more, although I didn’t connect with her, either. When she arrives in Italy, she ends up staying with a local woman, and meets many of the villagers and makes friends with handsome Renzo.

I went into this book assuming it was a mystery. After all, every other book I’ve read by Rhys Bowen has been a mystery. This ended up being a mystery as well, but one with more of a leisurely pace than what I’m accustomed to with Bowen’s writing. There was no sense of urgency here. That doesn’t mean it is bad, just that it wasn’t what I was expecting, and so the pace felt much slower when compared with her other books.

Another issue I had with The Tuscan Child was that there wasn’t any sense of fun here. It felt so serious, and I felt bogged down while reading. You’d think that a tale of a lady traveling to the Italian countryside would have a bit of lightness and fresh air to it. There was such an air of sadness around this, and so this book felt much more serious than Bowen’s other titles. There are some nice scenes involving food, and these were the highlight of the book for me.

As this is a mystery, it’s important to me that mysteries end well, and unfortunately, the ending was neither exciting nor unexpected. I got the sense that I was supposed to feel something powerful at the end, and I just… felt nothing.

Even though this one was a miss for me, I will absolutely still read this author’s works, and look forward to her next book!

Bottom Line: I didn’t connect with this and thought it was slow and dare I say it, boring.

LINKS ***the Amazon link is an affiliate link which means I receive a small commission if you click the link and make a purchase***

Will you be reading The Tuscan Child? Are you a fan of Rhys Bowen’s books? Has an author you loved ever released a title you didn’t care for?



7 thoughts on “ARC Review: The Tuscan Child by Rhys Bowen

  1. I had much the same response as you, although I preferred Hugo’s story. I didn’t connect with Joanna and at times it seems more of a promotion for Italian cooking than a mystery. I haven’t read In Farleigh Field yet, so I’m pleased to see you enjoyed more that The Tuscan Child.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, I’m glad we had a similar response! I keep seeing all of these glowing reviews for the book and kept thinking that I must’ve missed something and was worried I wasn’t looking at this book for itself but instead comparing it too much to Rhys Bowen’s other works. In Farleigh Field was really wonderful. It is entirely set during WWII, so no back-and-forth in time narrative, and the mystery is front and center in the book rather than taking a backseat like in The Tuscan Child.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, the identity of The Tuscan Child was a mystery, not really a spoiler, as the identity of The Tuscan Child was the one thing about the book that surprised me! I think the title helps to plant assumptions into the readers head. I haven’t decided if I like the title, or can’t stand it.


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